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Title: The influence of human factors on user's preferences of web-based applications : a data mining approach
Author: Clewley, Natalie Christine
ISNI:       0000 0004 2699 5069
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2010
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As the Web is fast becoming an integral feature in many of our daily lives, designers are faced with the challenge of designing Web-based applications for an increasingly diverse user group. In order to develop applications that successfully meet the needs of this user group, designers have to understand the influence of human factors upon users‘ needs and preferences. To address this issue, this thesis presents an investigation that analyses the influence of three human factors, including cognitive style, prior knowledge and gender differences, on users‘ preferences for Web-based applications. In particular, two applications are studied: Web search tools and Web-based instruction tools. Previous research has suggested a number of relationships between these three human factors, so this thesis was driven by three research questions. Firstly, to what extent is the similarity between the two cognitive style dimensions of Witkin‘s Field Dependence/Independence and Pask‘s Holism/Serialism? Secondly, to what extent do computer experts have the same preferences as Internet experts and computer novices have the same preferences as Internet novices? Finally, to what extent are Field Independent users, experts and males alike, and Field Dependent users, novices and females alike? As traditional statistical analysis methods would struggle to effectively capture such relationships, this thesis proposes an integrated data mining approach that combines feature selection and decision trees to effectively capture users‘ preferences. From this, a framework is developed that integrates the combined effect of the three human factors and can be used to inform system designers. The findings suggest that firstly, there are links between these three human factors. In terms of cognitive style, the relationship between Field Dependent users and Holists can be seen more clearly than the relationship between Field Independent users and Serialists. In terms of prior knowledge, although it is shown that there is a link between computer experience and Internet experience, computer experts are shown to have similar preferences to Internet novices. In terms of the relationship between all three human factors, the results of this study highlighted that the links between cognitive style and gender and between cognitive style and system experience were found to be stronger than the relationship between system experience and gender. This work contributes both theory and methodology to multiple academic communities, including human-computer interaction, information retrieval and data mining. In terms of theory, it has helped to deepen the understanding of the effects of single and multiple human factors on users‘ preferences for Web-based applications. In terms of methodology, an integrated data mining analysis approach was proposed and was shown that is able to capture users‘ preferences.
Supervisor: Chen, S. Y. ; Liu, X. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cognitive style ; System experience ; Gender ; Decision trees ; Feature selection